Israel expands Gaza ground offensive, says efforts in south will be ‘no less strength’ than in north

Gaza Dec 3 2023 Rubble
Hopes for another temporary truce in Gaza were fading.

The Israeli military said Sunday that its ground offensive had expanded to every part of Gaza, and authorities ordered more evacuations in the crowded south as they vowed that operations there against Hamas would be “no less strength” than the earlier efforts in the north.

Heavy bombardment followed the evacuation orders, and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said they were running out of places to go in the sealed-off territory that borders Israel and Egypt. Many of its 2.3 million people are crammed into the south after Israel ordered civilians to leave the north in the early days of the war, which was sparked by the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in Israel that killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

The United Nations estimates that 1.8 million Gazans have been displaced. Juliette Toma, director of communications at the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said nearly 958,000 of them were in 99 U.N. facilities in the south.

After dark, gunfire and shelling could be heard in the central town of Deir al-Balah as flares lit the sky. In Gaza’s second-largest city of Khan Younis, Israeli drones buzzed overhead. U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk urged an end to the war, saying civilian suffering was “too much to bear.”

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll there since Oct. 7 has surpassed 15,500, with more than 41,000 wounded. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but said 70% of the dead were women and children.

A Health Ministry spokesman asserted that hundreds had been killed or wounded since a weeklong cease-fire ended Friday. “The majority of victims are still under the rubble,” Ashraf al-Qidra said.

Fears of a wider conflict intensified. A U.S. warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed attacks on two ships they described as being linked to Israel but did not acknowledge targeting a U.S. Navy vessel.

Hopes for another temporary truce in Gaza were fading. The cease-fire facilitated the release of dozens of the roughly 240 Gaza-held Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. But Israel has called its negotiators home, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the war will continue until “all its goals” are achieved. One is to remove Hamas from power in Gaza.

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said resuming talks with Israel on further exchanges must be tied to a permanent cease-fire.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC’s “Meet the Press” the U.S. was working “really hard” for a resumption of negotiations.

Israel’s military widened evacuation orders in and around Khan Younis in the south, telling residents of at least five more areas to leave. Residents said the military dropped leaflets saying “Khan Younis city is a dangerous combat zone” and ordering them to move south to the border city of Rafah or a coastal area in the southwest.

But Halima Abdel-Rahman, a widow and mother of four, said she won’t heed such orders anymore. She fled her home in October to an area outside Khan Younis, where she stays with relatives.

“The occupation tells you to go to this area, then they bomb it,” she said by phone. “The reality is that no place is safe in Gaza. They kill people in the north. They kill people in the south.”

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has urged Israel to avoid significant new mass displacement and do more to protect civilians. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told Egypt’s president that “under no circumstances” would the U.S. permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, an ongoing siege of Gaza or the redrawing of its borders.

On the ground in Gaza, there was frustration and mourning. Outside a Gaza City hospital, a dust-covered boy named Saaed Khalid Shehta dropped to his knees beside the bloodied body of his little brother Mohammad, one of several bodies laid out after people said their street was hit by airstrikes. He kissed him.

“You bury me with him!” the boy cried. A health worker at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital said more than 15 children were killed.

Israel’s military said its fighter jets and helicopters struck targets in the Gaza Strip including “tunnel shafts, command centers and weapons storage facilities.” It acknowledged “extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area.”

The bodies of 31 people killed in bombardment of central Gaza were taken to the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, said Omar al-Darawi, a hospital administrative employee. One woman wept, cradling a child’s body. Another carried the body of a baby. Later, hospital workers reported 11 more dead after another airstrike. Bloodied survivors included a child carried in on a mattress.

Outside a morgue in Khan Younis, resident Samy al-Najeila carried the body of a child. He said his sons had been preparing to evacuate their home, “but the occupation didn’t give us any time. The three-floor building was destroyed completely, the whole block was totally destroyed.” He said six of the bodies were his relatives.

“Five people are still under the rubble,” he said. “God help us.”

During a trip to the United Arab Emirates as the top U.S. representative at the U.N. climate conference, Harris said: “Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”

Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, said Israel was making “maximum effort” to protect civilians. In addition to the leaflets, the military has used phone calls and radio and TV broadcasts to urge Gazans to move from specific areas.

Israel says it targets Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says at least 78 of its soldiers have been killed in the offensive in northern Gaza.

The widening offensive likely will further complicate humanitarian aid to Gaza. Wael Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority, said 100 aid trucks entered Sunday, but U.N. agencies have said 500 trucks per day on average entered before the war.

The renewed hostilities also have heightened concerns for the 137 hostages who the Israeli military believes are still being held by Hamas. During the recent truce, 105 hostages were freed, and Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners. Most of those released by both sides were women and children.

The families of hostages have called for an urgent meeting with Israel’s Security Cabinet, saying time is “running out to save those still held by Hamas.”

Elsewhere in the region, Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said it struck Israeli positions near the tense Lebanon-Israel border. Eleven people — eight soldiers and three civilians — were wounded by Hezbollah fire in the area of Beit Hillel, army radio reported. The military said its artillery struck sources of fire from Lebanon. It also said its fighter jets struck other Hezbollah targets.

And Iraqi militants with the Iran-backed umbrella group the Islamic Resistance in Iraq said they struck the Kharab al-Jir U.S. military base in Syria with rockets. A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said rockets hit Rumalyn Landing Zone in Syria but there were no reports of casualties or damage.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • My Take

    December 3, 2023 at 6:10 pm

    Israel is likely fòlllowing its traditional aims.
    Murderously terrorize Palestinaians to abandon their homes and homeland and seek safety in another coùntry (Egypt presently).
    And then never let them back.
    And steal their vacated property.
    The farthest-rightests are already openly talking about it.

  • rick whitaker

    December 3, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    a group of people that openly states that they are the chosen people favored by god, can easily expand that statement to include the sentiment that all other groups are NOT favored by god and therefore expendable. religious zealots of all flavors are dangerous to non religious people like me. lennon’s song, IMAGINE speaks of a world without religion leading to peace.

    • SteveHC

      December 3, 2023 at 8:33 pm

      “a group of people that openly states that they are the chosen people favored by god, can easily expand that statement to include the sentiment that all other groups are NOT favored by god and therefore expendable”… Rick, at least with regard to the Jews that so far hasn’t happened in over the 2,000+ years of their history. Now with regard to the Moslems and their Islamists as well as the Christians (let’s not forget the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition just for starters), the situation has obviously been considerably different – as it *also* was for your “non-religious” Ruskies of the Soviet Union, the effectively “non-religious” Nazi Aryan zealots of Germany, the modern-day “non-religious” Chinese and North Korean states of autocracy…

      • rick whitaker

        December 3, 2023 at 9:36 pm

        i was making reference to scriptures and believers saying or implying that. i never mentioned jews. some of the references you furnished are not using scriptures or god in their zeal. of course i know that a zealot doesn’t need those things to be dangerous, for instance gangsters, maga cultist, etc. i was referring to the “god” aspect only. when the roman leader turned christian it quickly led to the end of their empire. the egyptian pharaohs used that god tool too. the ruskies are not MY non religious group as you stated. non religious people like me come in all flavors. i don’t belong to any group. as a student of history, i know that it is primarily written be the winners of wars, not the losers, so i reject a lot of written history and replace it with, ” i don’t have any way of knowing”. you SEEM to have it all figured out though. what i do believe is that christians hold the record for killing the most people in the name of god. i read that king david was ok with killing all of his enemies including women and children, but as i said, much of written history is vague. if you thought i was surreptitiously not mentioning jews, well you were wrong. as far as israel goes, i’ve heard them reference ancient maps as justifications for aggression. if native americans done that, all the christians would have to leave the country. my point is that religion is part of the problem, not the solution. the pope and his regime during and after ww2 aided the nazi’. i don’t have any issue with any race, it’s the actions of a race i go by, knowing that what some people of a race does or thinks, has little to do with EVERY member of that race. i am mixed race but primarily native american ( cherokee }. i know that all the ancient indian tribes were very different in many ways. i found your statement about the 2000+ year old history of jews not using god for an excuse to be biased against other groups to be suspect. i don’t know the ancient history of jews like you claim to. i despise christianity, so if you are a christian, i despise your religion.

  • SteveHC

    December 3, 2023 at 8:21 pm

    – Utter nonsense in *every* regard. “My Take”, you couldn’t POSSIBLY be writing farther from the truth.

    • rick whitaker

      December 3, 2023 at 8:33 pm

      steveHC, i read my takes comment and found it to be valid in view of reports ,actions, and nutinyahoos’ statements that i’m aware of. you offered no facts to prove him wrong that i saw. are you god’s chosen people? i’m not chosen, so maybe i’m too stupid to understand.

      • My Take

        December 3, 2023 at 8:48 pm

        Many Israelis have openly admitted it over the decades. Many quotes are in history books. The present interest by the far right is in resent news.
        But the Naziyahoo nobbers and Likud lickers have to deny it. It is inconvenient.

  • SteveHC

    December 3, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    “Israel has called its negotiators home” – Interesting that the AP chose not to i clude a statement as to WHY Israel called its negotiators home, as the reason was that Hamas not only stonewalled during “negotiations” but also *deliberately* began violently violating the pre-existing negotiated ceasefire by resuming its rocket and other live-fire attacks on Israel and its civilians, leaving Israel with no choice but to halt its involvement in Hamas’s pretend “negotiations”.

  • My Take

    December 3, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    It is best– safest –to assume that ALL reports, explanations, and excuses are “spun,” by both sides. Philadelphia lawyerism at the very least.
    For example here, some news a day or so ago suggested (at least) that Israel cancled the ceasefire over some paperwork dispute regarding à list of names. IF Hamas then fired first, that is a lot different than them breaking the truce by firing. Obviously I (we) cannot know for sure yet.

    • rick whitaker

      December 3, 2023 at 9:41 pm

      my take you seem to be on top of it, good work.

  • My Take

    December 3, 2023 at 9:37 pm

    It is sometimes hard to tell tools, from stooges, from mere dupes or the one-way credulous.

  • My Taketense bombing and

    December 4, 2023 at 12:42 am

    With the resumption of ìntense bombing and other assaults on civilian-crowded Gaza, will the worldwide protests resùme?
    Will someone maybe up the ante? With Israel declaring they are going to kill Hamas members worldwide, is it OK to assasinate Israeli ambassadors and other high embassy personnel?
    Where does it all go?

  • My Taketense bombing and

    December 4, 2023 at 3:48 am

    Jrws didn’t attack anyone for the past 2000 years because they didn’t have thè power.
    Check out history (or Old Testament) for the blood drenched 2000 years before the diaspora.
    (BTW, Iran likes to brag that they have not invaded anyone for 300 [600 ?] years. Can we hear some cheers for Iran now from the Israel bleachers?)

  • My Taketense bombing and

    December 4, 2023 at 4:45 am

    Gaza is today’s Warsaw Ghetto.
    Driven by hate as much as by purpose.
    Add Rotterdam and Guernica for some additional parallels.

  • My Take

    December 4, 2023 at 4:59 am

    There are enough weasel words in statements from the sides in the news (I’ve seen) to make it still impossible to tell the exact way the ceasefire ended: who ended it and reason.

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 5, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    Stop! Stop! No matter how many are killed or survive THE MOST HEINOUS Crime is the raping! Men think it is their privilege to rape women in these genocides!

  • My Take

    December 5, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    The vilest crime is the murder of children, with the torture of children simply beyond ranking.t

  • My Take

    December 5, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    It is difficult to tell yet how much is IDF propaganda, but some claims are coming out about a big question. Obviously the attack, was well planned, but were the attrocities part of the formal plan? Especially the attrocities beyond plàin mass murder as part of the active attack. Some are saying yes.

  • My Take

    December 6, 2023 at 12:02 am

    Of course Hamas viciouusly abused women and girls. Hamas are religious conservatives.

  • My Take

    December 6, 2023 at 6:51 pm

    Gaza’s Holocaust.
    Will it get àny memorial in the US?

  • My Take

    December 7, 2023 at 9:26 pm

    Egypt knows what colonialist pariah-state Israel is up to. (Haaretz, Israel)
    Pushing Gaza Palestinians to Egypt (Sinai).
    Pushing West Bank Palestinians toward Jordan.
    Ethnic cleansing.

  • My Take

    December 9, 2023 at 5:25 pm

    Two bloodthirsty hate- and revenge-filled butchers.
    Kindred spirits.
    Hamas’s leaders and Israel’s gòvernment.

  • My Take

    December 10, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    The intended investigation into Benito Naziyahoo’s long and deep-pockets support of Hamas should prove interesting.
    If he doesn’t have all the investigators arrested.

  • My Take

    December 12, 2023 at 3:41 am

    Rightwing plans to steal Gaza.
    NBC —
    “Meanwhile a growing number of far-right Israeli politicians have made loud calls for the mass displacement of Palestinians into Egypt’s Sinai desert or to other countries in what would be seen by many as a new “Nakba” — the expulsion of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians from their homes when Israel was created in 1948.”

  • My Take

    December 12, 2023 at 4:05 am

    Middle East Institute (Wash., DC)
    ‘Ariel Kallner, for example, tweeted on Oct. 17, “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba [expulsion]
    that will overshadow the Nakba of [19]48. A Nakba in Gaza and a Nakba for anyone who dares to join!” Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nissim Vaturi, also of the Likud party, demanded, “Nakba?! Expel them all.”(

Comments are closed.


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